this year I have harvested flow frames and traditional frames from the same hives. I have noticed that the honey extracted via spinning has candied much faster than the honey from the flow frames. I have no idea why- except maybe small particles of wax in the spun honey might be acting as ‘seeds’ to start the crystallization process? Or perhaps the increased aeration and exposure of the honey to dust etc from spinning? I have sen this happen on multiple occasions now so am pretty sure it’s ‘a thing’.
Hi Jack, yes mine did too. Slower to crystallise than trad. spinning but I was far from doing it in a controlled experimental way. I posted about it on this forum but can’t recall under what heading or topic. It wasn’t a topic I had started but someone else had also made the same observation in the early days of the flow hive and I had thought that by now many of us who use both methods would have found the same thing.
Hi Jack, I’m thinking it could be a combination of the decreased aeration & agitation that causes it to crystallize slower. I wouldn’t be concerned about it, as long as it crystallizes, that’s the main thing.
Your flow honey will be just as good as the honey you spun with the extractor as long as it’s ripe.
Hi Jeff - it might even be better.
Hi Jeff…what is the main flowering species that accounts for the bulk of the honey you produce? I came across some remarkable info about flower type honey ripeness the other day…
Hi Dan, there is a real mixture of gum trees, paper barks, clover at times and backyard honey. At certain times our honey crystallizes faster than other times. Sometimes it will crystallize with a real coarse grain, and other times it will be a fine grain. It will be an ultra pale amber grading up a darker amber. Sometimes a golden color. Our honey has not had a chance to crystallize at home here for the last couple of years, because it is sold as soon as we get it out of the hives. However, customers do tell us that they like our honey because it crystallizes.
The Gum trees are a mixture of Tallow Wood, Black Butt, Stringy Bark, Brush Box, and various other gums.
Fabulous Jeff- I really admire what you are doing there. In the Australian Beekeeping Guide, Goodman and Kaczynski (who have enormous experience between them - much of it I guess dealing with commercial guys) note that …ripeness is dependant on the source of nectar and the atmospheric conditions at the time the nectar is gathered. Ground flora like clover and blackberry being higher in moisture than some Eucalypts. They say, “In hot, dry conditions, some Eucalypt honeys such as red box and yellow box, are considered ripe when 1/3 to 1/2 the comb is sealed”. They go on to explain more and caution of course, but I thought that was amazing!
I like the smell of traditional extracting and do that too, but I am sure there is merit in the argument that the honey smell during extracting is some of the flavour of the honey disappearing into the atmosphere and perhaps accounts for the taste difference vis-a-vis Flow honey. I don’t mind crystallised honey but prefer non crystallised in our cold climate. Tends to go rock hard on a cold morning - which is most of the year.
Hi Dan, many thanks. However I beg to differ in relation to the taste difference between flow honey & extracted honey. That would be a hard one to establish. I guess a person with a flow hive bias would say that the flow honey tastes better. Whereas a person with a traditional bias would say the traditional honey would taste better. An unbiased person might say that they both taste the same. I am of the opinion without tasting the difference between the two that they would probably taste the same.
I would not take the word of the flow team that flow honey tastes better because it comes out of flow frames as being an accurate assessment.
Spun honey probably has more pollen mixed in, at least mine does. Many of my honey frames will have some cells full of pollen, probably because I don’t use a queen excluder. When I uncap, I inadvertently disturb these cells so the pollen gets in the honey. I don’t mind it though as it is beneficial in my opinion. This pollen will cause faster crystallization. Honey packers ultra-filter the honey to remove all the pollen to delay crystallization.
Other factors are moisture content and floral source. High glucose honey crystalizes faster while high fructose honey is slower. Of course the less moisture content, the faster the crystallization.
Ed - definitely think you are right about the effect of pollen on crystallisation. I had pollen in my last harvest - I didn’t use an excluder either. I agree too that the pollen is probably beneficial. I think for people like Jack and I who use Flow frames and traditional spun methods, we can’t help but notice the crystallisation issue.
Jeff - yes you are probably right. I am commenting as an excited Flow hive owner and I am probably biased! It just seemed to taste really nice to me comparing the two from my own hives, but it was at a different time of the season, so that is another problem comparing them.
Yes I agree Dan, I reckoned the first honey I tasted from my own hive in my own back yard was the best honey I had ever tasted. At the time I was very biased towards my own honey.
of course- I am biased- but- I do think there is a real possibility that Flow honey retains an extra scintilla of flavor compared to spun honey. A few weeks ago I harvested my hybrid super- so I got three frames of flow honey and four frames of regular spun honey. As it all came from the same super and the same bees and was harvested on the same day- it is easy to compare the two. The flow honey is clearer, and has just an extra fraction of crisp flavor (I think). Also the regular honey has already started to candy whilst the flow honey shows no signs of candying yet. It’s all very good honey…
People have often said that comb honey is the gold standard for flavour- as it is the largely undisturbed until the moment of eating. Certainly some of the best flavorsome honey I have tasted was eating comb straight out of the hive with very freshly laid in honey in it. I am thinking flow honey might be the second tier in terms of lack of aeration prior to consumption. On the other hand it has been stored in plastic whereas comb honey is all natural… At any rate it’s a small matter- and of course good honey always tastes good.
It’s purely anecdotal but I took a sample to the bee society for an informal honey judging. There was an experienced Royal show honey judge who looked at maybe 15 samples bought in by different beekeepers. My flow honey scored the highest in all categories of all the honey bought in that day. The show judge does not use flow frames and did not know that mine was flow honey.
Lastly concerning candying- a few years back I read somewhere about how fructose is the villain sugar and how glucose is much better for us. So honey that candies faster is superior with a higher glucose content. Plus there is that idea than eating local pollen in honey decreases allergies and boosts the immune response.